Barcelona 3-1 Valencia: Fati and Depay help ease pressure on Koeman

By Sports Desk October 17, 2021

Ansu Fati and Memphis Depay helped ease the pressure on Ronald Koeman as Barcelona sealed a 3-1 win over Valencia at Camp Nou on Sunday.

The Catalan giants had won just three of their opening seven LaLiga games before the visit of Los Che and more disappointment looked a real possibility when Jose Gaya powered Jose Bordalas’ side ahead early on.

Fati, whose return from a long-term knee injury had been limited to substitute appearances before the international break, marked his first start since November 7 with a superb equaliser, while Depay put them in front from the penalty spot before the interval. 

Substitute Philippe Coutinho gave the scoreline a healthier look five minutes from full-time as Barca, who handed former Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero a late debut from the bench, sealed an important win.

It took just five minutes for Valencia to take the lead, Gaya lashing a superb half-volley into Marc-Andre ter Stegen's bottom-right corner from 30 yards.

Barca responded well, though, and drew level eight minutes later when Fati whipped past Jasper Cillessen from just outside the penalty area after a one-two with Depay.

The Dutchman then put the hosts ahead four minutes before the interval, thumping home from the penalty spot after Gaya had brought down Fati inside the area.

Cillessen got down well at his near post to keep out Fati's effort shortly after the restart, while at the other end Carlos Soler saw an effort crash back off Ter Stegen's right-hand post.

Ter Stegen had to be alert to keep out Goncalo Guedes' powerful strike shortly before the hour mark as Valencia threatened to restore parity. 

Maxi Gomez almost drew Valencia level with a long-range free-kick that flashed past Ter Stegen's upright inside the final 10 minutes, yet it was Coutinho who had the final say, the Brazil international sliding in his first goal of the season from close range.

Related items

  • Pochettino '100 per cent' at PSG, expects to be 'judged by work', not Mbappe relationship Pochettino '100 per cent' at PSG, expects to be 'judged by work', not Mbappe relationship

    Mauricio Pochettino is "100 per cent" committed to Paris Saint-Germain and does not believe his future at the club will be decided by his relationship with Kylian Mbappe.

    Both Pochettino and Mbappe have been the subject of speculation for much of this season.

    But while the superstar forward has signed a new contract in Paris, snubbing Real Madrid, it is unclear how that development impacts his coach.

    Pressure has been building on Pochettino since PSG again failed to win the Champions League, losing to Madrid in the last 16 despite Mbappe scoring in both legs.

    Given reports suggest Mbappe has been given a significant say in the running of the club as part of his new deal, it would appear crucial Pochettino keeps the World Cup winner onside.

    But in an interview with COPE, the former Tottenham boss seemed confident he would be given the opportunity to prove his worth at the Parc des Princes regardless.

    "I have said I am 100 per cent here. Today I tell you I am 100 per cent here," Pochettino said.

    "I have one more year of contract. The challenges are there and it motivates any coach.

    "I don't think [the relationship with Mbappe is decisive]. I will be judged by the work. We have won all the titles that previous coaches have won. That is earned regularly, and you have to give it value. This league is not easy."

    Asked if he wanted to keep his job, Pochettino added: "Of course, 100 per cent. It's a club that has ambition. The big disappointment is the Champions League because of the desire of the people."

  • Mbappe war of words wages on with UNFP blasting 'offensive, hateful' Tebas comments Mbappe war of words wages on with UNFP blasting 'offensive, hateful' Tebas comments

    Kylian Mbappe remains at the centre of a disagreement between French and Spanish footballing bodies after snubbing Real Madrid to stay at Paris Saint-Germain.

    Mbappe, long linked with Madrid, announced last week he would be signing a new contract in Paris rather than joining the Champions League finalists as a free agent.

    LaLiga chief Javier Tebas swiftly responded to the news by claiming it to be "an insult to football".

    Those comments have unsurprisingly prompted replies from France, firstly from LFP president Vincent Labrune, whose letter to Tebas was reported on Thursday.

    Labrune questioned "your latest attacks against Ligue 1 and one of our clubs", believing his counterpart's behaviour to be "completely inappropriate".

    And that is a view shared by the UNFP, the French players' union, which released a statement also directed at Tebas later on Thursday.

    "We can hear and understand the disappointment of people from Madrid and their compatriots, even knowing, especially in the world of football, that you don't win every time and that it is possible to say 'no' to Real Madrid, even for a third time," said the body on its website.

    "But demonstrating to the point of incomprehension does not justify disrespecting the player, his club and all of French football in this way, unless we call into question the freedom for a footballer to sign a contract with the club of his choice?

    "The arrogance of the remarks made is shocking and there is no need here to reply to our Spanish friends that they have hardly any lessons to give to French football in terms of financial management, protectionism and equality...

    "Once again, the most enraged is Javier Tebas who, when it comes to PSG, forgets to turn his tongue in his mouth seven times before speaking.

    "And his offensive, hateful remarks, without restraint or foundation, bring shame and discredit to him, especially with regard to his position.

    "In the heart of the 70s, Jeannette sang 'Porque te vas?' ['Why must you leave?']. But Kylian Mbappe will not leave, no offence to the president of the Spanish league...

    "So 'Porque Tebas?' asks the UNFP..."

  • French Open: Tsitsipas through against "complete player" Kolar French Open: Tsitsipas through against "complete player" Kolar

    Stefanos Tsitsipas called Zdenek Kolar a "complete player", despite ultimately defeating his Czech opponent in the second round of the French Open.

    Tsitsipas was relatively untroubled in the first set, but was made to work for the win after that as he and Kolar exchanged one tie-break each before the number four seed finally secured victory with another tie-break in the fourth set, sealing it 6-3 7-6 (10-8) 6-7 (3-7) 7-6 (9-7).

    Kolar is ranked 134th in the world but looked every bit a threat to Tsitsipas on Court Suzanne-Lenglen, hitting 57 winners and succeeding with 29 of 37 net points (78 per cent).

    Speaking at a news conference after his win, Tsitsipas explained the difficulties he experienced, saying: "He's someone I knew a little bit. It's never easy playing guys that don't really play on the ATP Tour. You don't really know what to expect. I guess they play more free.

    "It's always like this. They really have a nothing-to-lose mentality. It's a different mentality than what we have, I think, which sometimes can really be brutal on the court and create some good tennis.

    "He was really pushing a lot today, getting after every ball. His body was behind every ball. Running fast, reacting fast. Good net game. Complete player, I would say. Yeah, it wasn't easy out there to face him and come up with some good solutions."

    Tsitsipas - who hit 25 aces - displayed some of his oft-seen frustration as he struggled to stay on top of his opponent, and was asked if his hardest obstacle was Kolar or himself.

    "I guess both today," he said. "I had a lot of opportunities, break points, playing quite well, staying within the game. He was coming up with some really good ideas and I think dealt with all of the situations so maturely, not overexaggerating anything. He's an intelligent player, I would say.

    "Look, last year there were moments where it was about me and the way I deal with situations on the court, not focusing that much on who is on the other side. It's all about perspective. It's sometimes good to focus on what you are doing, but also if you're not feeling great, you have to see the other side too."

    Having rallied from two sets down to beat Lorenzo Musetti in the first round, and now being made to work hard by Kolar, Tsitsipas will now face Mikael Ymer after the Swede beat 29th seed Dan Evans on Thursday.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.